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On the May 13 episode of Bravo's Top Chef, the Quickfire challenge theme for the day was all about second chances, starting with Jamie Tran's return for another shot at winning the competition. "When I got terminated, I didn't think I was going to come back," she said. "Me being eliminated and coming back, definitely [the] biggest second chance of them all."
Before the cheftestants kicked off the challenge inspired by Dave's Killer Bread®'s Second Chance Employment mission, host Padma Lakshmi explained how they would incorporate past culinary errors into the dishes they were about to prepare. "Your greatest successes can be a result of your biggest failures if you take the opportunity to learn from your mistake," she said. "We want you to take a second chance at a dish that may not have been your proudest moment."
The chefs had a wide variety of ingredients to choose from in the kitchen's "second chance marketplace," including soft cucumbers, yellowtail collar, chicken feet, pig's skin, wrinkly peppers, browned artichokes, moldy cheese, bay shrimp, overripe bananas, mutton, overripe tomatoes, turkey legs, old corn, fish heads, soft ginger, and leftover wine, among other items.
Fresh bread heels from Dave's Killer Bread were also available to the cheftestants for a very notable reason. "Dave's Killer Bread, based here in Portland, is focused on second chance employment, hiring those who are ready to make a change in their lives after being incarcerated," Padma explained. "So we felt it was only appropriate to include them in our second chance marketplace."
As the maker of America’s #1 organic and non-GMO breads, bagels, buns, and English muffins, Dave's Killer Bread creates products that are power-packed with whole grains and have no high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, or artificial ingredients. As noted during the episode, Dave's Killer Bread started with a team of 30 people in 2005 and employs over 300 people today. Over 30% of the employee partners at the bakery in Milwaukie, Oregon have a criminal background. The company is dedicated to inspiring other businesses to become Second Chance employers through the Dave’s Killer Bread Foundation, which works with businesses to help create meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for individuals impacted by the criminal justice system.
Following the Quickfire challenge, Padma and Melissa were blown away by the cheftestants' abilities to transform dishes that they once considered failures. However, Shota Nakajima particularly impressed them with his aradaki (soy-braised fish head), a dish he has struggled with multiple times in the past. "It's one of the first dishes that I started making," Shota explained. "I got yelled at a lot because it was too sweet, it was too salty."
Shota not only perfected the flavors of the dish during the Quickfire challenge but made great use of the second chance marketplace. "I thought you really utilized a lot of what was up here," Melissa raved. "That fish was perfectly cooked."
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